LARGO — It has certainly been an interesting year for Jason Stokes. In October of last season he resigned as head coach at Gaither after the team was forced to forfeit three games due to the use of two ineligible players.
He landed briefly in the spring at Dixie Hollins as an assistant coach. Prior to the fall season, he became the assistant head coach at Indian Rocks Christian.
Head coach Mark Buchanan was having health issues and by the sixth game of the season Buchanan was forced to step away. Stokes took over and the Golden Eagles ended the regular season 7-2. They begin the playoffs Friday at home against Admiral Farragut.
"It’s kind of like riding a bike," Stokes said about returning to head coaching. "These kids are a lot of fun. And I have a great staff and administration. I think the sky’s the limit around here."
He did have to make one adjustment to his coaching. He spent most of his career at big schools with big rosters. That’s not the case at Class 2A Indian Rocks Christian. He’s had to learn how to squeeze the most out of his players.
"It’s crazy going from 8A where you have 50 or 60 kids to 2A where you have 25 kids and really only 16 play," Stokes said. "It’s really all hands on deck. You have to be a great manager of bodies. You have to keep aware of kids fatiguing, kids getting injured. And you have to manage snaps from Day 1 so that the kids are able to make a playoff run."
All games 7:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is $8.
No. 6 East River at No. 3 Plant
No. 7 Gaither at No. 2 Viera
No. 5 Wiregrass Ranch at No. 4 Lake Nona
No. 8 St. Petersburg at No. 1 Venice
No. 7 Bloomingdale at No. 2 Tampa Bay Tech
No. 6 Palmetto at No. 3 Pinellas Park
No. 6 Barron Collier at No. 3 Largo
No. 8 Clearwater at No. 1 North Fort Myers
No. 7 Chamberlain at No. 2 Mitchell
No. 8 Sebring at No. 1 Armwood
No. 5 Hillsborough at No. 4 Lake Gibson
No. 6 Jesuit at No. 3 Jefferson
No. 7 Tarpon Springs at No. 2 Lakewood
No. 6 Clay at No. 3 Hernando
No. 7 River Ridge at No. 2 Zephyrhills
No. 8 Nature Coast at No.1 Baker County
No. 4 Tampa Catholic at No. 1 Clearwater Central Catholic
No. 3 Calvary Christian at No. 2 Lakeland Christian
No. 4 Southwest Florida Christian at No. 1 Cambridge Christian
No. 3 Admiral Farragut at No. 2 Indian Rocks Christian
No. 4 Zephyrhills Christian at No. 1 Victory Christian